Autumn Brew, aka. Oktoberfest Beers

We had a great dinner last night with family and friends at Howells & Hood (which by the way boasts the largest draft been selection in Chicago).  But when the hostess brought out seasonal, autumn beer list, entire table let out a collective sigh.  Chicago summer is now officially over…  Much to our delight, the list did not contain too many hackneyed (not to mention over-played) pumpkin stout or any other pumpkin varietal.  A couple of my favorite darker ales of the fall –

  • Old Brown Dog by Smuttynose Brewing – it’s heavy in alcohol (almost 7%) so perfect for slightly frost-bitten evenings when you feel like ribs or other sauce-rich meat comfort dishes.  It’s deceptively creamy with light on bitterness and after-taste.
  • Indian Brown Ale by Dogfish Head – if you like dark, bitter brew with thick foam resulting from heavy does of molasses during the brewing process, this is the fall beer for you.  Great with rubbed / smoked meats and vegetables.

What are your favorites?

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Fall’s Best Draws

 

Excerpts from the fall 2014 addition of Men’s Book…

The most luxurious way to draw out the cast of fall’s flavorful air is through the leaf-wrapped tobacco of a fine cigar.  The best stogies manage to magnify the season’s crisp, smoky air while heralding the rich complexities beneath.  But which smokes go the extra mile?  Some of the well-known Chicago cigar shops weighed in.

  • Up Down Cigar (www.updowncigar.com) – Arturo Fuente Don Carlos Aniversario Toro; one of the most flavorful medium-bodied smokes, its aged wrapper and filler tobaccos are all from the Dominican Republic.  It has leathery notes and saltiness often found in Cubans.
  • Iwan Ries & Co (www.iwanries.com) – Crowned Heads Las Calaveras; robust flavors provided by the refined Ecuadorian wrapper and the Nicaraguan filler, it has oaky, crispy and buttery flavors that pay homage to the festivities of Dia de los Muertos.
  • Hubbard State Cigar (www.hubbardstatecigar.com) – Ashton Virgin Sun Grown; the long-lasting, box-pressed cigar in a good-looking Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper draws like a slow drive through delicious bouquets of almonds, cedar and roasted molasses.

My favorite?  Partagas 1845.  Asides from its hearty Ecuadorian wrapper, Connecticut binder and Nicaraguan fillers aged in Dominican rum barrels, every time my business partner and I smoke one with prospects / clients, we seem to close a new deal…

Sonoma-Cutrer (SC) Late Harvest Chardonnay

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I consider Les Pierres, The Cutrer and Russian River Valleys collections from SC to be some of the finest craft white wines in the world.  With the region’s dense, gravely soil and even growing season due to cool coastal climate, the area known as Sonoma Coast Appellation has produced award-winning earthy, yet buttery flavored white wines.  But since Brown-Forman (if you have not heard of them, they own Jack Daniels) purchased the winery and my good friend Terry Adam retired as the head wine maker about the same time, I have not paid any attention to their offerings.  Until now…  SC unveiled the first limited edition wine under its SC Winemaker’s Release Series titled Late Harvest Chardonnay.  Produced using grapes left on the vine past ripeness and aged in French oak barrels, it has a sweet (but not overpowering) and exceptionally complex taste profile that pleasantly layers on the pallet.   They are available only in selected markets – I had to ask a friend on a business trip from California to put a bottle in his check-in bag.  I believe this may be the first legitimate hit under the new regime…  Something Terry would be proud of.

FTIL 16 – Bhambi Laws

bhambiOnce you’ve had a set of threads custom tailored, it’s hard to go back to the off-the-rack routine.  WSJ recently published an article on the finer points of alpha dressing where a banker had the inner pocket of his jacket precisely dimensioned to fit his choice of smart phone brand.  Little over the top if you ask me but you get the point…

One of the more respected establishments in North America for custom tailoring is Bhambi’s located on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.  For almost half a century, they’ve been dressing celebrities, CEOs and politicians.  When Watch! Published an article on the operations that a father and son team runs, I had to write about so called The 22 Bhambi Laws of men’s couture.

  1. Know yourself.  Then get dressed.
  2. Quality is just important as the fit.
  3. A cheap suit fits no one.
  4. Every man alive is too young to smoke a pipe.
  5. A man looks better in a suit than anything else in his wardrobe.
  6. Even Ned Beatty looks good in a black turtleneck sweater.
  7. Act your age, not your collar size (not sure if I get this one).
  8. Jacket sleeves are tailored so that half an inch of the shirt cuff shows when your arms are at your sides (I think this rule is somewhat regional).
  9. Pants are cuffed so that no sock shows while you walk.

10. Your collar should complement your face.

11. Black shoes, black belt.  Brown shoes, brown belt (for extra style points, match belt buckle with band on your watch).

12. On jewelry: one ring.  One wristwatch.  You are done (cannot agree more).

13. One pair of top quality shoes is better than 10 cheap pairs.

14. Denim is for weekends.

15. That said, with a good white shirt, navy blazer and sharp pair of jeans, you can go just about anywhere.

16. Gray flannel pants are the navy blazer of cold weather.

17. A Crisp white dress shirt is the gray flannel pants of shirts.

18. The cheap suit is fused; the strong suit is stitched.

19. Just as important as the clothes; fresh haircut.

20. Your exterior side pockets remain sewn shut.

21. Unless you’re being financially compensated for it, wear no visible logos.

22. Business casual is no longer about Khakis.

There are lots of wisdom in these words…   Here’s to finer things in life.

FTIL 15 – Buying your own island (Part 3 of 3 part series)

Lanai

Leave it to Larry Ellison, the billionaire founder and CEO of Oracle, to make the news with trophy acquisitions – trimaran (and bankrolling the entire team) that won the America’s Cup; a fully functional fighter jet; Japanese-style personal estate in Northern California; etc.  While his recent endeavors to purchase a professional basketball team has hit a few snags, the Maui News reported that he has closed a deal to purchase 98% of Lanai for 500~600MM from an entity controlled by David Murdock (I actually had no idea that Lanai is privately owned until now…)   I guess 780 acre James Island for sale by the McCaw family is not splashy enough for the 3rd richest person in the US.   Neil Abercrombie, the state’s governor commented, “it is my understanding that Mr. Ellison has had long standing interest in Lanai.  His passion for nature, particularly the ocean is well known specifically in the realm of America’s Cup sailing.”  Well, let’s just hope Ellison does not close down pineapple plantations in favor of real estate developments like Murdoch did…

FTIL #14, Going Organic – Produce: What, When & Where

Buying Organic Produce NaturallyWhen our son was born, my wife switched everything to organic – sugar, shampoo, milk, blankets, etc…  Yes, she bought organic cotton blankets for their soft, supple feel…   I am certainly not against buying organic food, but with the average cost of feeding a family of four exceeding $1K per month according to the USDA, is there any room to still economize while “going organic”?

Do we really need to buy everything organic when it comes to fresh produce?  Various public health advocacy organizations recommend buying the following twelve fruits and vegetables from the organic aisle, based on review of USDA’s pesticide data: apples, peaches, imported grapes, strawberries, imported nectarines, domestic blueberries (my son’s favorite), celery, potatoes, spinach, bell peppers, lettuce and collard greens.  When it comes to other fruits and vegetables such as watermelons and mushrooms, you are better off saving a few pennies.  But if spending a few extra bucks gives you a piece of mind for your family, I’d say go organic even for blankets.  Here’s to enjoying the finer (organic) things in life!

 

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https://smbmatters.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/ftil-11-breath-of-fresh-air/

Putting On the Good Linens – FTIL #13

linen style

I love linen pants.  Stronger than cotton and guaranteed to wrinkle, it is the most perfect summer trouser for men when neither shorts nor jeans fit the social agenda and khakis and dress slacks appear to be over-done.  I’d wear linen all year long if I could – well, maybe except for during Chicago winters…  Spun and woven from the fiber of the flax plant, linen is one of the oldest textiles made (ancient Egyptians dressed their nobility and wrapped their mummies in it) and seemingly has never gone out of style…   And it is making a splash of recent with new color palette, straying away (successfully I might add) from the usual white and beige standards that hang in my closet.  Look for a full spectrum of color offerings, as well as a choice of textures.  Some of my favorites: orange sherbet pastel from Zegna; light navy blue tint from Canali; and Brooks Brothers linen pleats.

Here’s to staying cool and looking good while you do it!

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